how many electrons can the F orbital hold

how many electrons can the F orbital hold

Electron orbitals, also known as atomic orbitals, are three-dimensional spaces in an atom’s nucleus where a specific electron resides. These orbitals may come with different numbers of electrons and shapes.

For instance, how many electrons can reside in the F orbital? Continue reading this informative article about orbitals to find out!

The Maximum Number Of Electrons In The F Orbital

The F orbital contains a minimum principal quantum number (n) value of 4. It is also the fourth orbital after S, P, and D.

The F orbital has an orbital angular momentum (ℓ) value of 3. Consequently, this orbital has a magnetic quantum number range of -3, –2, –1, 0, +1, +2, +3, leading to seven F orbitals.

These F orbitals are as follows: fx (x²-y²), fy (x²-y²), fxyz’, f³z, fyz’, fxz², and fz (x²-y²).

Orbitals can usually hold two electrons each. Therefore, seven F orbitals multiplied by two equals 14 orbital electrons.


Which Elements Have F Orbitals?

You can find around 30 elements with F orbitals in the periodic table. These F block elements are the elements separated underneath the main body of the table.

The elements with F orbitals are the Lanthanides (57 to 71) and Actinides (89 to 103) series. These series include Lanthanum, Cerium, Praseodymium, Neodymium, Actinium, Thorium, Protactinium, Uranium, etc.

Scientists consider these elements inner transition metals. They also refer to these as rare earth metals with a high diversity of oxidation numbers.

The electron usually adds up to the deep-seated f orbital with the increasing atomic number of the F block elements. Accordingly, the outer orbital holds 6s or 7s electrons, and the inner orbital has F electrons.

What Are The Quantum Numbers That Describe Electronic Orbitals?

There are four quantum numbers for describing electronic orbitals. These quantum numbers are the following:

  • Principal Quantum Number (n)

The principal quantum number corresponds to the shell or energy level where the electron resides. Its value can range from 1 to n, where n is the value of the outermost shell holding the electron.

The n’s value can only be positive, integer, or non-zero. Examples are n = 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on.

  • Orbital Angular Momentum Quantum Number (ℓ)

The orbital angular momentum represents the subshell of the electron. It also allows you to determine the shape of the electron orbital.

The ℓ’s value ranges from 0 to n-1. For instance, ℓ will be 0, 1, and 2 if the n is 3.

  • Magnetic Quantum Number (mℓ)

The magnetic quantum number indicates the orbitals of the given subshell. It can range from -1 to +1, depending on the given ℓ.

For example, if the given ℓ has a value of 2, the mℓ will be -2, -1, 0, 1, and 2.

  • Spin Magnetic Quantum Number (ms)

The last is the spin magnetic quantum number (ms), which describes the electron’s spin. Since the spinning of the electron generates a magnetic field, the ms can have values of alpha +1/2 and beta -1/2.

Why Are Orbitals Named S, P, D, and F?

The orbital names S, P, D, and F came from the names given to groups of lines noted in the spectra of the alkali metals. Scientists have named these line groups sharp (s), principal (p), diffuse (d), and fundamental (f).

How Many Electrons Can The S Orbital Hold?

The S orbital has zero values for its ℓ and mℓ. It only has one orbital, which can hold only two electrons.

The elements with S orbitals are on the first and second columns on the left side of the periodic table. Considered the S block, they fill the S orbital of their highest energy level with their final electron.

How Many Electrons Can The P Orbital Hold?

The P orbital possesses a value of ℓ = 1. Hence, its mℓ ranges from -1, 0, and 1, with a total of three P orbitals.

In this case, the P orbital has three P orbitals with two electrons each, equal to six P orbital electrons.

In the periodic table, the P block elements are on a rectangular segment to the right of the drop-down central portion. You can find about six columns in this part.

However, Helium does not belong to the P block elements because the first energy level does not have any p orbitals.

How Many Electrons Can The D Orbital Hold?

The D orbital has a value of ℓ = 2. Thus, its mℓ starts from -2, -1, 0 to +1, and +2. Since it has five orbitals, the maximum number of electrons D orbital can hold is 10.

The periodic table of elements provides a section for these D orbitals. They call these D blocks or transition metals.

You can usually find the D block in the dropped central part of the table.

What Shapes Do S, P, D, and F Orbitals Have?

The orbitals have varying shapes due to their quantum numbers. Since S orbitals have a value of zero orbital angular momentum, they only take a sphere shape. You can have the probability of finding the electron at a given distance equal in all directions.

Meanwhile, P orbitals with ℓ = 1 contain a nodal plane. They include the nucleus, so they usually have a dumbbell shape.

D orbitals with ℓ = 2 have clover-like shapes because they have at least two nodal surfaces. Lastly, F orbitals with ℓ = 3 are mostly indefinite and more complex.

What Is Electron Configuration?

Electrons are not in the nucleus, so they are hard to locate, unlike protons and neutrons. However, looking for these electrons is essential because they are the reason atoms can interact with others.

Since electrons are in orbitals and these have many shells and subshells, the electron configuration tells us how these electrons are present inside the varying atomic orbitals. It also enables us to understand the energy and shape of the electrons through their different quantum numbers.

You can also use electron configuration to describe an atom that became ionized into an anion or cation by balancing the gain or loss of the electrons in their subsequent orbitals. You can also come up with their unique electron configurations by analyzing their physical and chemical properties.

What Are The General Rules Of Electron Configuration?

There are rules to follow for electron configuration. The rules and principles are:

  • Aufbau Principle

The word ‘Aufbau’ means ‘building up’ in German. Also called the building-up principle, Aufbau states that electrons fill orbitals in a specific order of increasing energy.

The electrons’ order is: 1s < 2s < 2p < 3s < 3p < 4s < 3d < 4p < 5s < 4d < 5p < 6s < 4f < 5d < 6p < 7s < 5f < 6d < 7p.

In this occupation order, the electrons cannot fill the latter subshells without occupying the lower energy orbitals. Moreover, the electrons must occupy the 4s orbital before the 3d orbital despite having lower energy.

  • Hund’s Rule

Hund’s rule expresses that when electrons fill degenerate orbitals, they need to occupy the empty orbitals before double occupying them.

For example, if a subshell has three orbitals, the electrons must initially fill the three before reoccupying them. Since we usually use upward and downward arrows, we must start occupying the orbitals with upward before using downward.

What Is Pauli’s Exclusion Principle?

Another rule in electron configuration is the Pauli exclusion principle. An Austrian physicist named Wolfgang Pauli proposed this principle in 1925 to describe the observed patterns of light emission from atoms.

The Pauli exclusion principle asserts that no two electrons in a single atom can be in the same state or electron configuration. Subsequently, this principle has become generalized to include an entire class of particles where the electron has only one member.

The subatomic particles have two different classes depending on their statistical behaviors. Pauli called the particles to which the Pauli exclusion principle applies fermions, while he named those which are not bosons.

The fermions have a characteristic value of intrinsic or spin angular momentum. Their spin always comes with some odd whole number multiple of one-half (1/2).

Today, the space around the dense nucleus consists of orbitals or regions, each of which possesses only two distinct states. The Pauli exclusion principle then signifies that if an electron of spin one-half occupies one of these states, only an electron of the opposite spin or negative one-half can occupy the other.

Once a pair of electrons with opposite spins occupy or fill an orbital, other electrons can no longer enter it unless one of the electrons exits the orbital.

One alternative version of the Pauli exclusion principle applied to atomic electrons expresses that no two electrons can hold the same values of all four quantum numbers.

You can check the video above to know more about this principle.

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